New to chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Akane, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    I've always had lots of pets but my mom drew the line at birds and snakes. Now I have my own house and I was thinking of venturing into the world of birds by getting some buttonquail. Then upon arrival of my hovabator I immediately started thinking "What fun stuff could I hatch from this?" [​IMG] and decided I'd like to try keeping some bantams. I really like the btw japanese bantams.

    The main thing I need to figure out is housing. I live in Iowa where it can get to -20F in the winter. I'm actually renting and so while I can use the land (80acres in total) however I want I would prefer not to build anything permanent. I also would prefer to have any chickens (I'd love to have guinea fowl but not ready for those yet) as loose as possible. Not pens I have to build, clean, and maintain. Exactly how free is "free range"? Can I just build a small plywood structure for shelter and turn them loose in the backyard during the summer (~1000' of 4 1/2' high fencing)?

    In the winter I do have a full basement that stays above 60F but it is rather damp. Could I keep them there in cages or pens for the 3-4months out of the year we are frozen solid?

    My backup plan is a really old barn but it's full of stuff and hasn't been used in 10+ years. Would take a lot of work and I'd have to clear it with the owner along with finding another place to store the stuff that's in it.
  2. ChickyPooh

    ChickyPooh Songster

    Jun 3, 2008
    South GA
    Your gonna have to do some work if you want to keep chickens. Your best bet is the barn.
  3. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
  4. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing

    Build some type of portable house for them. Thats a lot of acreage for them to free range on. They can fly over a 4 1/2' fence. Just let them out during the day and lock them up at night so nothing gets them. What predators can get them during day though?
  5. blue fire

    blue fire Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Murfreesboro, TN
    You will be suprised what temps a chicken can live through!! The Kind of coop you would want is a free range coop you can move those around. With free range Like the unristricted 80 acres you are talking about there is bound to be some predators. I keep mine In our backyard wich is 1/2 of an acre fenced in with regular 5 ft chainlink fencing. I only have 2 fullsize hens and 4 6-weeks olds, but this seem to be plenty of space, and about 1/3 of the space is taken up by a garage and bushes.
  6. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * Maybe, you could go with a small area of the barn as a coop for nightime, and free range them with a portable tractor during the day. I don't think a damp basement is gonna really work out for winter keeping though. [​IMG]
  7. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    The site I read said japanese bantams should not be kept below 20F and another site said their waddles are susceptible to frostbite. 20F is not really possible in an outdoor building here without heat and the barn doesn't even have electricity.

    The owner of the property was actually excited to hear I wanted to keep chickens and would gladly let me clean out the barn since she knows I would put a lot of work into it and take care of it but it turns out the stuff in the barn does not belong to her so I have to call the owner of the barn "contents" (looks like junk to me) and see if they will move some of it or let me relocate some of it to another building. It may end up in my basement instead if I want to use the barn. I may get one or the other not both. Building a pen isn't so much a problem but building a pen that includes the barn door is. The only door I see on ground level (the outside is covered in grapevines) opens to the beaten down vehicle wide path that leads from the garage back past the buildings. Putting a fence across it would result in difficulties. Like mowing the back section of what has been decided to be the yard in order to keep the excessive mosquito population from hanging around the house.

    We don't have so many daytime predators and my akita keeps most things like stray dogs away. A few flying critters is about it and I haven't seen our great horned owl this year. I know there are prairie falcons in the area but I haven't seen or heard them much around here. Nearly all predators are nighttime. I've been putting my guinea pigs out during the day in a 10x10 pen I built in the yard for the past 2 months and haven't seen anything that might go after them aside from my own dog. She has a tendency to wander off so is nearly always leashed on my property and taught not to chase pets like guinea pigs and cats. She gets her excercise at the dog park and the fenced pastures at the stable so it's not an issue aside from an occasional playful pounce in the direction of another animal before leaving it alone.

    I'd rather not fence off more land and I'm kinda running low on money and tposts but if I really want something I do put effort in. This is my guinea pig pen: pigs/outdoor pen/
    4x4posts, an inner layer of mesh, outer layer of chainlink, and several planting areas with guinea pig approved forage and moveable mesh panels to control grazing. There might be some more rolls of 5-6' chainlink around if that's useful. I don't have much money to buy more fencing though after just redoing 5 miles of pasture fencing at my stable across town.
  8. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    awww, your guinea pigs are so cute!! Last summer I had a couple temporarily until they found a home, they are sweet. Cool outdoor cage you have for them. Something like that could work for some chicks, just cover it some how so they don't jump out! Where I live it only gets into the 30's at night, sometimes 20's so I don't have much advice for you for your winters. I don't know if just having hat lamp like you do for baby chickies is enough heat or not. Seems like you could make something like your guineas have for your chickies, and when it is cold add a heat light? [​IMG]

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